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Plastic straws, to-go bags a thing of the past at HRI, Seminole Gaming properties

Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming, both owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, announced in August the elimination of plastic straws and plastic to-go bags at its properties. The to-go bags were to be eliminated by mid-August and the plastic straws by Sept. 1.

Hard Rock officials said “durable, earth-friendly drinking straws” will now be available to customers on request. To-go bags made of paper will be used instead of plastic.

The move is significant, say environmentalists, and follows similar actions by other companies recently like Marriott International, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, Starbucks and Royal Caribbean International.

While the environmental effect of a plastic straw might not seem like much to the average person, industry watchers say otherwise, as Americans used almost 400 million plastic straws per day in 2017, according to marketing research firm Freedonia Group.

Environmentalists say plastic straws can’t be easily recycled; they do not biodegrade and never fully degrade; and plastic straws are one of the most-often littered items responsible for polluting the oceans and killing sea life.

Comparable and often worse environmental consequences can be attributed to the use of plastic bags.

“Seminole Gaming has a long history of sustainability programs, and we are pleased to add more earth-friendly straws and to-go bags to the list,” said Tracy Bradford, senior vice president of Purchasing, in a statement.

Bradford noted that Seminole Gaming restaurants already use reusable, recyclable or eco-friendly to-go containers. She said the casinos also recycle cardboard and wood pallets.

Two of Seminole Gaming’s six Florida casinos operate under the Hard Rock brand. They are the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Hollywood and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. Others are the Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Seminole Casino Immokalee, east of Naples, and the Seminole Casino Brighton, near Lake Okeechobee.

The announcement is significant for the Hard Rock brand as well, as it has a presence in more than 74 countries across the globe with 185 cafes, 25 hotels and 12 casinos.

“One of Hard Rock’s founding mottos is to ‘Save the Planet,’ and this is only an extension of the commitment we made to do just that 47 years ago,” Bradford said in her statement.

“Our vendors and partners have been and will continue to be instrumental in activating this endeavor across the globe, and we are proud to help make a difference in conscientious sustainability practices as a business – it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a staff reporter for The Seminole Tribune. Prior to moving to Florida, he was a reporter and editor for print and digital publications in his home state of New Mexico. When Damon’s not working on a story, you’ll probably find him at a hot yoga class or splashing around on some South Florida beach. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.

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